Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E-books or E-Readers

I am skeptic when it comes to e-books. It isn't so much the ideal of the device but the number of issues it seems to be creating.

First the trouble with loaning e-books in the library and the fun new ways the publishing industry like to make our lives difficult (damn you Harper Collins!).

Also, the e-reading revolution has brought questions to the reference desk that I don't have good answers for:
  1.  Does your library have e-books?      We have e-books but you can only view them on a computer.
  2. Which device should I get?                   This may depend on your needs and tech skill level. 
  3. Can you load an e-book on my device?      I'm not allowed to play with your device.

Part of this is just the fact that my library isn't ready to handle the explosion of e-readers from the holiday season. We just don't have the resources to help our patrons and this sucks. I hate not being able to really help when presented with a question. Good news, we are aware of the problem and working on it.

I recently went to an E-reader petting zoo that, (I believe), the NC State library sponsors for teaching librarians. I got to play with a Nook, Nook Color, Sony E-Reader, Kobo and the Kindle. I must say I went in preparing to be underwhelmed but I did learn somethings that lighten my e-reader/e-book woes.

First and foremost, there was a discussion of lending out the e-readers themselves as opposed to e-books. There are a few libraries in NC who are actively loaning out the reader's, in fact a local branch within my system is looking to use some e-readers as part of an outreach project. Is it legal? There are some doubts. Yes it requires a signed agreement with the patron but it's so neat to think about checking out the "mystery" or "best sellers" e-reader where you don't just get one book, you get them all.

(Okay I know, not all, as that is impossible but you get the idea.)

The other thing was I learned about Calibre, open source software for converting public domain e-books into the file format your device reads. It worked on PDF articles as well. You don't have to worry about assigning a file format to convert to, plug in your device and it will convert it to the appropriate format on its own.

Hence, my technology challenged mother can use this....

Well, more food for thought when approaching your e-book or e-reader situation...


  1. Grazie...the other thing I learned (but did not post due to lenght) That having to use a e-reader that was a mix of touch screen and not (regular Nook) or where it worked mostly with the stylus (Sony) was frustrating....

    I fell for the Nook Color. It was very intuitive...

  2. Good food for thought, Sarah. Our public library here just started lending out Kindles and Nooks (for an hour each, I think, and you have to keep it in the library). They're loaded with periodicals so far... I love the idea that you could just check out the "mysteries" one too, although maybe it would have to be short stories, since that's certainly not enough time for a book?

  3. Well they are letting people out of the library with these (I impression due to the fact that checking one out requires paper work in which the patron agrees to pay the cost of the reader if it should be lost or damaged)